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Hollywood Legend Lauren Bacall Dies at 89; Hillary Clinton to "Hug It Out" with Obama; Gilbert Gottfried Remembers Robin Williams; More Details Released on Robin Williams' Death

Aired August 13, 2014 - 06:30   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: She was one of Hollywood's all time leading ladies. This morning we remember the legendary Lauren Bacall who died Tuesday at age 89. In a career spanning nearly seven decades, Bacall was famous for that throaty voice, her trademark look on screen, and for showing the world how to whistle.

CNN's Nischelle Turner has more.


LAUREN BACALL, ACTRESS: You know how to whistle don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With those words in the film "To Have and Have Not", audience as imagination soared and a screen legend was born. The confident, smoldering experience, the downturned face and upturned eyes, earned Lauren Bacall the nickname The Look. Ironically, the 19-year-old struck the pose because she felt insecure.

BACALL: I mean that's what started The Look was nerves, just trying to keep my head steady.

TURNER: Bacall was more than a movie legend. She was from Hollywood's Golden Era and the wife of actor Humphrey Bogart. "The Big Sleep" was among a handful of films they made together, but their love affair was one of Tinseltown's greatest romances.

BACALL: Oh, I liked that.

TURNER: Bogart died of cancer in 1957, leaving Bacall a widow at 32 with two small children. For a time, she was engaged to family friend and singer Frank Sinatra. When the romance fizzled, Sinatra headed to Las Vegas. Soon Bacall fell in love again and married actor Jason Robards with whom she had a son. She blamed his drinking for their divorce.

BACALL: I don't even know if he enjoyed it, but he was hooked on it and he was -- it really almost destroyed him. And fortunately it did not.

TURNER: Bacall was born Betty Joan Persky on September 16, 1924. Her parents were Jewish immigrants who divorced when she was just 6. As a lanky teen, she modeled to earn extra money, taking her mother's maiden name Bacal, adding a second L to make it easier to pronounce.

Film director Howard Hawks saw her photograph on a magazine color. A screen test later and Hawks changed her name.

BACALL: He felt that Lauren Bacall was better sounding than Betty Bacall. He had a vision of his own. He was a Svengali. He wanted to mold me, control me.

But how about one of those maharajahs?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How about three of them? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had three of them up for dinner and they all married us?

BACALL: Think of all those diamonds and rubies.

TURNER: Bacall's co-stars read like who's who of Hollywood but it was on Broadway where she achieved her most critical acclaim.

BACALL: Oh I loved it. That was my original dream, anyway, to be on stage.

TURNER: She spent nearly 20 years on the stage starring in "Cactus Flower", "Applause", and "Woman of the Year", earning two Tony awards. In her later years, her film career saw a renaissance.

BACALL: Inside I feel young, like a kid. But it's the beginning.

TURNER: She starred opposite Barbara Streisand in "The Mirror Has Two Faces", earning her only Oscar nomination.

BACALL: The idea is for people to pass around the bushes completely. I prefer it that way, as you should know.

TURNER: And she was still acting in her 80s in such films as "Dogville" and "Birth" with Nicole Kidman.


TURNER: A diva, a film star, a Broadway jewel, and a classic legend of an era gone by.


PEREIRA: My kind of gal. This is what I love to read about, is that famous look she was known for, apparently came out of a case of nerves. She was nervous about a scene she was performing at the time with a co-star, and so she realized if she put her chin down, it would help the trembling and she could kind of look up.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: She was always nervous at all times.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Look, the voice makes me melt.


PEREIRA: You got weak in the knees.

BERMAN: She practiced it. They said, tat voice, it works! So she goes by herself in a car and reads lines to get it sound like that.

BOLDUAN: Isn't it surprising? She was 19 when they were talking about -- she was beautiful beyond those years for sure.

BERMAN: Very mature and what a career. What a career.

PEREIRA: A different era.

BERMAN: I have a crush not just on her but I have a crush on what she had with Humphrey Bogart as well because that was magical.

PEREIRA: I'll do a mini marathon of some of her films.

BOLDUAN: Now that is a marathon worth marathoning. I like it.

All right. We're going to take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY -- after really blasting President Obama's foreign policy, Hillary Clinton plans to hug it out when the two attend a party tonight. Could there be some sort of 2016 strategy at work here? Who knows? We're going look at it and the politics of it.

BERMAN: Plus, a comedy force of nature -- that's how Gilbert Gottfried remembers his fellow comedian and friend Robin Williams. They starred in "Aladdin" together. He's here to share his memories with us.


BERMAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. Hillary Clinton trying to clean things up after criticizing President Obama, calling his foreign policy in Syria in part a failure. So Mrs. Clinton called the president to smooth things over. Her camp saying it was to, quote, "make sure he knows that nothing she said was an attempt to attack him, his policies or his leadership." Today the two will be together at a party at Martha's Vineyard. An aide to Mrs. Clinton said she's looking forward to hugging it out with the president.

We're joined this morning by CNN political commentator Paul Begala, for Democratic strategist of course and senior adviser for Priorities USA Action. Paul, I'm so glad you are here, because to me this is a thing. This is a thing. You do not call the president to smooth things over unless you are concerned that you roughed them up.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. Of course. But there is a difference between disagreement and disrespect. I don't think Hillary is being disrespectful. But she does disagree.

I think what was unusual -- this came out in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg at "The Atlantic" -- the only journalist who interviewed her about the book who had actually read the book. So in the book she's very clear about this. She supported arming rebels in Syria. The president opposed that. That's just an honest disagreement. She thinks she was right. The president thinks he was right. He got to decide. But of course when she writes her book or talks about her tenure at State, there were times she disagreed with the president. Good for her. I don't really get why we're all hyperventilating here.

BERMAN: I will tell you why we are all hyperventilating, including me. Because what this illustrates is the tightrope -- Frank (INAUDIBLE) wrote that in an op-ed but I think it's a good way to illustrate it -- the tightrope that Mrs. Clinton has to walk as she considers whether to run for president.

BEGALA: Of course.

BERMAN: How she creates distance or talks about the distance that may legitimately exist between herself and the president without alienating his supporters, supporters like your friend David Axelrod who works or worked for President Obama for a long, long time.

Look, Mrs. Clinton in the interview was talking to Jeffrey Goldberg about the idea of don't do stupid stuff, which president has discussed is a guiding principle of part of his foreign policy. Mrs. Clinton said, "Don't do stupid stuff" is not an organizing principle. Great nations need organizing principles.

So David Axelrod, your friend, tweets this. He says: "Just to clarify don't do stupid stuff means stuff like occupying Iraq in the first place, which was a tragically bad decision." I don't think, you know, anyone forgets Hillary Clinton voted to authorize military action in Iraq. This is a swipe at her.

BEGALA: But also, again, in the book she says it was wrong, that that vote that she cast in favor of that war was wrong. You know, I talked to Axe yesterday. He has very high regard for Hillary. I'm quite sure if she runs, I'm certainly going to try to, and everybody will, enlist Axe's support for Hillary.

But, look, those kinds of I think statements -- it's not an organizing principle, obviously. But Google went a long way with "Don't do evil." Back when I worked for Bill Clinton, my partner James Carrville hung up a sign in the war room that said, "It's the economy, stupid." Now, that wasn't the full political strategy, but it's still useful to remind you.

So again -- wait a minute, Berman, I even brought along, because I heard you were hyperventilating. I think we should all just like -- OK I feel better now. She does have to walk that line. She does. But this is what politics is. She largely agrees with the president. She was proud to serve in his cabinet. I thought it was terrific that he put her in here. It helped to knit the party back together.

But the most important thing was that she did disagree. This is what you want in a cabinet. It shows that Barack Obama wants strong people around him. I think George W. Bush had too many yes men and women. That's part of the reason he did stupid things.

BERMAN: I know this must be trying for you. You must feel like a middle child in a divorce just trying to keep Mommy and Daddy together. But there is this split here, and I think also, Paul, what it does illustrate, one of the things that I think --

BEGALA: What split?


BEGALA: It's a disagreement about a policy.

BERMAN: It is. And you have an adviser to President Obama responding to it. One of the things I think that Hillary Clinton needs to consider, and everyone supporting her needs to consider, is just how far they can go in a possible campaign. If you have supporters of President Obama responding like this in the course of a campaign, it will be uncomfortable. You can't deny that.

BEGALA: Absolutely. Just no doubt. This ain't easy, John. She supported this president after they had a big primary against each other. She worked in that administration. I think she did a terrific job. I think the president has done a terrific job. But there are going to be places -- look you know what Mama used to say? If two people agree on everything, one of them is not thinking. Well, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both think and from time to time they're going to think differently. And I think that's a good thing.

But you're right, Hillary will have to maneuver that. But I got -- pretty confident she's got the brains to do that. And I'm also extremely confident that the president himself is not hyperventilating about this at all.

BERMAN: If she means it like you say she means it, in her book, because she writes about it, and she says this freely in the interviews here, why then call to apologize?

BEGALA: Well, I don't know that she apologized. I wasn't on the call. But her spokesperson said is that she called to make sure that he understood. I mean, this has become a kerfuffle. You're hyperventilating about it. It's good that they're going to see each other. Ann Jordan, it's her birthday. She's a terrific woman. I'm glad that -- she's got pretty high powered friends, both the president and Hillary at her birthday party tonight.

But this will be all fine. We're 2 1/2 years from the election. Everybody just needs to take a deep breath, perhaps into a paper bag, and just chill.

BERMAN: It's good as you say they will meet together to clear things up even though you deny they have anything to clear up. The conundrum, Paul.

BEGALA: No, no, it's a real disagreement. They're not going to clear that up. She thinks it was right to arm the rebels; he thinks it was wrong. This is why we have smart people on the foreign policy team. You don't want people telling the president all the time you're right, you're right, you're right. BERMAN: This is why we have you with us in the morning. Paul Begala,

great to see you. Thank you for the parting gifts, the paper bag. I didn't have one of those; now I do. So I get to leave with something here on my substitute stint on NEW DAY.

Next up for us here, you never did see their faces, but their voices teamed up to make movie magic in "Aladdin". Now Gilbert Gottfried paying tribute to Robin Williams. We're going to speak with him here live. Next.


ALADDIN: Genie, I wish for you to make me a prince.

ROBIN WILLIAMS, VOICE OF GENIE: All right. That fez and vest combo is much too Third Century. Here's patches, what are we trying to say? Beggar? No. Let's work with me here.

Ooh, I like it muy mucho.




WILLIAMS: Hey you, let us through. It's a bright new star. Oh, come. Be the first on your block to meet his eye. Make way, here he comes, ring bells, bang the drum, are you gonna love this guy . Prince Ali, fabulous he, Ali Ababa.


PERREIRA: That was a clip from Robin Williams' unforgettable animated classic, one of my favorites, "Aladdin". He co-starred in the film with the great Gilbert Gottfried. The two also spent time together in comedy clubs. After Williams' death, Gottfried wrote a really poignant piece about the late star for I encourage you to take a read, it's a really moving piece.

Guess who's here thought? Gilbert's here with me in studio. Such a delight in having you. And watching that clip, it reminded me that oftentimes in these animated films, the two people -- you're never in the same room.

GILBERT GOTTFRIED, COMEDIAN: Yes. It always makes me laugh, these stories that I keep hearing of, oh, when Gilbert Gottfried and Robin Williams were together in that sound booth, that was craziness. And we never ran into each other.


GOTTFRIED: No, no. During the making of this film, never once ran into each other. We knew each other from the clubs. It's like he used to pop into the clubs all the time. And I remember at a time when he was big on "Mork and Mindy", and I was like sort of getting known around the comedy circuit. But the public didn't know me. And one time I was about to go on stage at The Improv in New York, and Robin popped in. So of course the club owner said, "No, we're throwing Robin on. The hell with you."

PEREIRA: And you're like all right.

GOTTFRIED: Yes, yes, he's out. And Robin goes -- I have some friends in the audience and I want them to see Gilbert first.

PEREIRA: How about that? Generosity of spirit.

GOTTFRIED: Yes, they brought me on. I did well. And when I got off Robin was laughing and wiping his eyes and he goes, oh, you really baked my cookies.


PEREIRA: Which is such a generous thing to hear from another comedian. It's one thing to have fans react to your comedy, but it's great to hear that kind of respect from another comedian, isn't it?

GOTTFRIED: Yes, yes, he was like that. In fact, the last time that I saw him was -- it was -- they showed a photo --

PEREIRA: I think we can show it again.

GOTTFRIED: Yes, Bob Saget was having this --

PEREIRA: Great shot of the three of you.

GOTTFRIED: -- Scleroderma fund he was raising, and Robin and I both performed there at Caroline's. And afterwards Billy Crystal stopped by and Robin invited me to come with them to have dessert. We went to a place in Times Square. We were sitting, having dessert and laughing and telling stories, and afterwards we're leaving and Mel Brooks is at a table. This is like --

PEREIRA: Mind-boggling.

GOTTFRIED: And Robin and Billy went over and talked to him. I didn't know Mel. And Robin went out of his way to go, oh, you should have seen Gilbert over at the club. And then he started quoting my lines to him and everything.

PEREIRA: Just such a generosity. I think I can't get past that. The fact that -- it's a dog eat dog world in the world of comedy, I imagine. To have somebody be so generous.

I know you've also had times where you shared the stage with Robin and we all loved that manic sort of crazy riffing, the stream of consciousness comedy that he has. And I imagine that would be really invigorating to work with.

GOTTFRIED: Yes. It was a few times when he was at the clubs and I'd be there. He would call out my name and I'd go on stage. And we would riff off each other, which was -- it was exhilarating but it was also exhausting. And you had to be on your toes every second with him.

PEREIRA: You had to be, absolutely.

I think one of the things that has been so hard for so many people is to know that he struggled so hard, and we even saw yesterday many comedians voicing their -- their sadness over his passing. Chevy Chase issued a statement on his death and also revealed to a lot of people that he has had his own struggles. A lot of funny men have struggled with this.

You're an insider. What is your sense of it? What is your take? What is your even own explanation of why there's been such a struggle with these guys?

GOTTFRIED: Oh, god, I don't know. With me, it comes out like dime store psychology.

PEREIRA: Go ahead, dime store psychology away.

GOTTFRIED: That whole Paul Yache (ph) thing.

PEREIRA: You think that's what it is?

GOTTFRIED: Might be. Who knows? It's a tricky thing.

PEREIRA: Within the comedy world, you know, I think there's been a lot of, you know, remembering of those last moments. I want to you talk a little bit about his head space when he was -- the last time you saw him. You talk about this fundraiser for this the scleroderma foudnation that Bob Saget holds so dear. You guys are there. He's on stage. Robin, as we know Robin.

What were your thoughts. Where was his head?

GOTTFRIED: I mean, when I spoke to him, and I wasn't like very close. I don't know. I don't know which people were very close to him. But, in fact, it's a funny thing going back to that story of dessert and -- after we left the restaurant, we're all standing outside and Billy Crystal said good-bye to Robin and then he then says to me, Crystal says to me, OK, bye Gilbert, I guess we'll talk in another 30 years. And he got in a cab. And I think that's kind of the relationship I have with a lot of these people. Robin I would see more because he was always popping in the clubs.

PEREIRA: There's been a lot of news today people are frustrated and hurt and angered by how much was revealed about his passing yesterday in the news. Do you have thoughts on that? Do you think that it's too much? Do you think the family -- obviously the family deserves privacy. What are your thoughts on that? I'm curious.

GOTTFRIED: It's another tough one. I mean, the news has to find out and reveal it, but then it gets -- it starts getting creepy after a while. The whole thing becomes kind of ghoulish.

PEREIRA: It does become kind of ghoulish, doesn't it? I want to point to you to the really terrific piece that Gilbert wrote

on It is a really, really fantastic read and you kind of feel like you're there having dessert with these comedy legends. I wish that I could have been a fly on that wall, Gilbert.

GOTTFRIED: I can't believe that -- I'm happy that that's my -- that my last memory of him is that. That was an amazing night.

PEREIRA: I am too. It's been amazing chatting with you. And thank you for writing that wonderful article -- very moving as well -- on our website.

Also he's got a podcast, tearing it up I hear. "Gilbert Gottfried Amazing Colossal Podcast" -- that's a pretty sizable podcast there. Gilbert, thanks for spending time with me this morning.

GOTTFRIED: Thank you.


BOLDUAN: All right, Michaela, thanks so much. We're following a lot of news including new details of the death of Robin Williams. Let's get straight to it.


POLICE OFFICER: It was a suicide due to asphyxia, due to hanging.

WILLIAMS: The world sees one thing and what am I like at home? Different because I can't always be on.

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": I'm never going to see anyone like this human ever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More than 100 U.S. military advisors being sent to northern Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got take a step back and ask ourselves what are we trying achieve here?

BOLDUAN (voice-over): A rare and remarkable look inside the world of ISIS militants.

Peaceful demonstrations erupting into violence for the fourth straight night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I watched him until his body stop moving and then I ran.


BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome back to NEW DAY. John Berman is here with us. Chris is off today. We're going to stay on our top story -- tragic details have been revealed about Robin Williams' final hours. Officials confirm the legend hanged himself in his California home. Dan Simon is joining us once again from California with the very

latest. Good morning, Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Kate. Well, people were genuinely surprised by the level of detail disclosed by the Marin County sheriff's office, because typically they're pretty sparse in releasing this kind of level of detail, at least at the early stage. The bottom line is that Williams was discovered by a personal assistant after he failed to respond to a knock on a bedroom door.


POLICE OFFICER: Our indication is that it is a suicide due to asphyxia, due to hanging.

SIMON (voice-over): Upsetting details released by the coroner revealed comedic legend Robin Williams hanged himself with a belt inside his San Franciso area home.

POLICE OFFICER: The personal assistant entered the bedroom to find Mr. Williams clothed, in a seated position, unresponsive, with a belt secured around his neck with the other end of the belt wedged between the clothes closet door and the door frame.

SIMON: Williams, who was recently battling severe depression, may have also tried to slit his wrist with a pocketknife, according to the coroner. The 20-minute long press conference was deemed inappropriate by many taking to Twitter, outraged over its gruesome level of detail about the death of the beloved star.

Williams' wife Susan Schneider was the last to see the comedic icon alive. The couple retired to different rooms around 10:30 p.m. Sunday night. The next morning, believing Williams was asleep, Schneider left the house just an hour before his body was discovered.

FALLON: Before we get into the show, we like all you were shaken up a bit last night when we learned that genius, comedian, and actor Robin Williams passed away.

SIMON: Late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon and Conan O'Brien visibly emotional as they paid tribute to the Oscar-winning actor.

CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": Robin, thank you for so many delirioiusly funny moments and for so much happiness that you brought so many people.

SIMON: Tributes extending across the country from fans grateful for all the laughter he brought.

WILLIAMS: There was a time that I found myself funny.

SIMON: The San Francisco Giants holding a moment of silence at last night's game for whom they called one of their most loyal fans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he will be deeply missed by all of us. SIMON: All three of the comedian's children released statements

Tuesday, one of his sons describing his father a best friend who was gentle, kind and generous.

Zelda Williams, the actor's only daughter, wrote, "There's minor comfort in knowing our grief and loss in some small way is shared with millions. To those who are touched who are sending kind words, know that one of his favorite things in the world was to make you all laugh."


SIMON (on camera): Investigators say that toxicology results or chemical substances that may have been in his body won't be known for up to six weeks. And, Kate, investigators also declined to say whether or not Williams left a suicide note. Back to you.

BOLDUAN: All right, Dan Simon. Thanks so much, Dan. More details coming up.

BERMAN: Want to go to Iraq now, the subject at least where embattled Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki is fighting back, calling efforts to force him out unconstitutional and a conspiracy. His bid to stay in power though is crumbling. This coming as more U.S. troops arrive in that nation. About 130 U.S. Marines and special operations forces now on the ground there.